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Giants' Landon Collins focused on being the best safety in the NFL

Giants safety Landon Collins (21) talks to the

Giants safety Landon Collins (21) talks to the media during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ, on Friday, July 27, 2017. Credit: Brad Penner

He’s a key piece in the Giants’ plans for 2018, he’s coming off surgery, and he’s entering the final year of his rookie contract.

No, not that guy. Plenty of time and space has been spent wringing hands over Odell Beckham Jr. We’re talking about safety Landon Collins, who finds himself in an oddly similar situation to the wide receiver… even if the attention paid to it is vastly different.

Consider that when John Mara spoke earlier this week, the first question – the first half-dozen questions in fact, plus a few more later – regarded Beckham. Collins wasn’t even mentioned.

All of which is fine with Collins. In fact, he’s one of those ignoring himself as far as the contract is concerned.

“I just want to play ball, honestly,” Collins said on Friday before training camp. “I’m not too stuck on the contract. Yeah, it’s around the corner, but at the end of the day what got me here was not worrying about a contract. What got me here is playing ball, playing fast, playing aggressive, and trying to be the greatest each and every time I touch the field.”

He does want to stay with the Giants.

“My biggest thing was when I came into the league and whatever school I went to from high school on up, wherever I started was where I wanted to finish,” he said. “It’s kind of my motto.”

He just doesn’t want to be a part of the process to keep him here.

To that point, he’s instructed his agent to not bother him with any conversations that may pop up regarding a possible extension with the Giants. He’s open to negotiations taking place, in other words, he just doesn’t want to know about them.

“If it weighs on me it’s going to cause me to push for plays and plays will go over my head and bad stuff is going to happen,” he said. “If they talk contract, just leave that from me because I don’t want to worry about that. I don’t want to worry about money, cash, or what goes into the paperwork. That’s not my focus.”

What he is focused on is climbing his way to the top of the NFL’s safety pecking order. He’s already fairly high, having been invited to the past two Pro Bowls. Now, though, he wants the rest of the league to recognize what he believes to be the case: That he’s the best.

“We have a lot of great safeties out there, I look up to them all and I respect them all, we all play great ball, but at the end of the day I’m always going to say I’m the best safety out there,” Collins said. “I feel like I am the best. Definitely.”

He does admit that he didn’t play like it last year, when he was playing on an injured ankle for most of the season and wound up finishing the year on injured reserve with a fractured forearm that required two surgeries.

“I didn’t make the plays I know I can make,” Collins said, “but at the end of the day I look at it that I was maybe five plays behind the top three safeties. I look at it as I was still up there and giving competition to the best.”

That forearm is now completely healed. “One hundred percent,” Collins said. “I would say 110 percent, but reality is it’s 100 percent.” He has no limitations in practices and does not expect to have any even when the team goes into full pads this weekend. He has no plans to wear any kind of protective sleeve on the area once the season starts, either.

Collins begins his fourth year with the Giants unencumbered both physically and mentally. He’s ready to let it loose. The Giants are ready for that, too. In new defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme, he figures to move around quite a bit, roam the field stalking plays. He got his first taste of that in the past two days of practice after missing most of the on-field portion of the offseason workouts.

“This is my first time playing around in the defense so we’re still going here and there with it and fishing around seeing what the outcome will be,” he said. “I’m just ready to play.”

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